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  • Why in stories about disabled, they exist to be (a) pitied, (b) inspired from, or (c) nutjobs? Can't they just have their adventure without having to have heart-tuggng music playing, people cheering them on and stuff? (or scary music if they're playing as the nutjob?)
    • Probably because (a)most writers are not disabled and (b)don't know enough about the disabled to write them in any other way.
      • But there's a lovely thing called RESEARCH!! If I wanted to write a story about a hunchback in the 1880s, I'd research it via internet and medical journals. The information is out there! After it's done, have them do something that's not being cheered on for doing ordinary things or killing people. It's not that hard!!
      • True, but most writers can't be bothered to do the research.
    • But still, it's totally possible to have a disabled character do a lot more than be a source of inspiration or be a serial killer...
    • Really, it all comes down to the default state: not being disabled. Anytime a disabled character appears, there will be a specific reason for it. Disability is a good way to get a character pitied, so if you want the audience to pity a character, making them disabled is a way to go. Disabled characters can also be a source of inspiration for the audience, so you make a character disabled to create that kind of inspiration. However, people have an ambiguous view of the disabled in some way. They're different, the other. So making someone you want the audience to feel ambiguous towards disabled is also a good way to go. Authors don't roll dice and randomly decide, "Oh, him? He's blind," and then write the story around that.
      • So what you're saying is it's better to write the story about a disabled character as if he weren't disabled rather than spend the whole book talking about the disability and why it sucks for him?
        • Yep.
      • I think I see what you're saying. So if, for example, my character were deaf (like me), it's better to have him behave like everyone else despite his deafness (and he works around it) than to have him spend the whole thing going, "Poor widdle me. I am deaf. My life sucks. I am oppressed by the hearing population. :( :( :(" But would it be offensive if, one scene, he gets a bit frustrated at his deafness? Like he has trouble communicating with someone who refuses to slow down so he can lip-read?
      • No, I wouldn't be offended at all by your character getting pissed off at someone who won't talk more slowly. I think that what's most offensive about these characters is how other people react to them in the story.
      • I agree. Completely ignoring the disability can be just as offensive, because then you're glossing over a trait that does and should have a major impact on who this character is. The issue is that it shouldn't be the only thing that defines him. He should get frustrated and have a hard time of things because of his disability, but he shouldn't exist merely for the sake of being pitied or to be "inspirational". An above poster hit this on the head: being disabled is not the default state, so often writers think that giving a character a disability is enough to make them an interesting and well-rounded character, when it isn't, in much the same way that making a character female becomes a defining characteristic and thus female characters tend to be flat or stereotyped characters.

Notes

  1. WARNING: the poster is a fluent speaker of smartass
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